Full Body Scanners "Useless"

Published: April 23rd 2010
in News » Local

Airport scanner
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A leading Israeli airport security expert has pronounced that Canada’s new full-body scanners are a waste of the federal government’s money, Canwest reported.


"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747," Rafi Sela told officials probing the state of aviation safety in Canada on Thursday. "That's why we haven't put them in our airport."


Sela is a former chief security officer at the Israel Airport Authority and a 30-year veteran in airport security and defence technology. He took part in designing the security technology at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.


Sela's assertions on the imaging machines come following the Canadian government’s purchase of 44 body scanners for major Canadian airports. Each machine cost $250,000 and is being used for secondary screening to detect anything non-metallic, unless the passenger prefers to be physically frisked.


Transport Minister John Baird announced the hastened implementing of the scanners days after a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.


Sela told Canadian airport security officials, however, that they are “running after the incidents instead of being in front of them."


Junior Transport Minister Rob Merrifield defended the Canadian government’s $11-million investment, saying "Full-body scanners are used by dozens of countries around the world and are considered one of the most effective methods of screening." He added that the scanners fit Canada’s already strict security requirements.


Sela suggested, however, that it would make more sense to create a system where pre-approved, low-risk passengers could move more quickly through an expedited security check, allowing increased focus and resources for the screening areas. Behaviour profiling is also of the utmost importance, Sela added.


Political scientist Mark Salter, an aviation security expert at the University of Ottawa, disagreed with Sela, calling the scanning machines a "genuine leap forward," as not only can they detect more familiar threats such as liquids or metals, but they can identify non-metallic threats as well. He referred to the full-body scanner as a “much better mouse trap."


Some critics, however, feel that with these new technologies, higher security fees for passengers are sure to follow.


The new imaging machines, which scan through clothing to produce a three-dimensional image of the passenger's naked body, have already caused a hike in passenger fees; but, according to Kevin McGarr, president of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), airport security threats are always changing. McGarr stated that it is likely the CATSA may have to spend further funds on additional supplementary technologies to keep up with the changes in security threats.


McGarr testified that the new body scanners, in addition to other security technologies recently set in place, put CATSA "in a good position to respond to new threats which we may face."


According to Mario Laframboise, however, a Bloc Quebecois transport critic, all this just sounds like another hike in security fees to be imposed on the travelling public.

Related articles: (full-body scanner, Rafi Sela, airport security, Ben Gurion International Airport, John Baird, aviation)
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